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In 1990, longtime capo Richie Aprile was sentenced to ten years in prison.
He gave control of his crew over to his younger brother, Jackie Aprile.
However, Tony would serve as the power behind the throne with support of the other family capos their main conduit to the Lupertazzi Family, underboss John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni.
Tensions flared up between Junior and Tony after Tony's mother, Livia Soprano, revealed that Tony was seeing a psychiatrist and had been meeting secretly with his capos in Livia's nursing home.
Uncle Junior and Tony were, at that point, at each other's throats because Junior plotted to have a rival, Gennaro "Little Pussy" Malanga, killed in Malanga's favorite restaurant, Vesuvio, a restaurant owned by Tony's childhood friend Artie Bucco.
Tony foiled Junior's plans by ordering Silvio Dante to set fire to Artie's restaurant to prevent the hit from happening.
The Newark area is depicted as an area of heavy activity during the family's early years.
The Sopranos were a key faction in the Di Meo crime family, running two separate crews led by Johnny Boy and Junior, and also had longstanding ties with the five New York Families (particularly the Lupertazzi crime family).
It is thought to be loosely based on the De Cavalcante crime family, a real New Jersey Mafia family.Also, Tony's nephew, Christopher Moltisanti and his associate Brendan Filone, were hijacking trucks from Comley Trucking, a business that paid protection to Junior.Junior's enforcer, Mikey Palmice, killed Brendan, and hired Russian hitmen to perform a mock execution on Christopher under Junior's orders.In the series, the Di Meo crime family is believed to have been formed in Northern New Jersey in the 1950s.Ercole Di Meo is believed to have been the first official boss, although according to the book, The Sopranos Family History by Allen Rucker and David Chase, there was an earlier boss named Alfano, but he is never mentioned in the series.Junior Soprano was spared when he was indicted by the federal government, along with underboss Joseph "Beppy" Sasso and capo Lawrence "Larry Boy" Barese, and because Tony wished to keep him as the lightning rod that took the hits for the Family.Tony then took over virtually all of Junior's business and became the Boss of the now renamed Soprano Crime Family.When Jackie Aprile died in the summer of 1999, and tensions between Junior and Tony were at an all-time high, it was assumed that the two would go to war over the top position.Tony instead deferred to Junior, giving him the official title as Boss of the renamed Soprano crime family.Ercole Di Meo was convicted and given a life sentence in prison in 1995.Jackie Aprile was named Acting Boss of the family by Di Meo, much to the chagrin of Junior Soprano.